Friday, May 18, 2012

Back in the Bloggin' Saddle

Time to get back in the saddle and resume "normal" blogging.  You may be wondering what else I was doing during the A-Z Challenge, since those posts were made to fit in the alphabet.  I was reading as usual, cooking and eating (though I don't think we tried any new recipes), doing a little knitting, and planning for an annual all-day seminar for the organization for which I am the now the vice president (was secretary but as of yesterday morning, I am now VP - you may address me as Madame VP, if you wish).  I compare preparing for this seminar, and for the other 3 evening meetings we also hold each year, as hosting a wedding reception, for 125-150 people every couple of months. Booking venue, choosing the food, sending the invitations and managing the RSVPs, all while arranging for different speakers for each of these events (one for each of the evening meetings and 4 for the all day seminar).  Truthfully, it is exhausting but worthwhile work which I enjoy, but am glad when it is over.  Kind of like my wedding, really - Glad I did it, and enjoyed the planning and the event, but glad when it was over.  So in addition to that...

Reading: In April I read 3 books and have read another 2 books so far in May.  First was a re-read of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg.  Many people are more familiar with the movie (Fried Green Tomatoes) but this is a delightful book as well.  Such strong, interesting women characters and really just so much going on in this story - some classic scenes where I found myself cheering for the women as they took on some people we all know in real life.  I read it last about 15 years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it again this time.  Even if the book club referred to the characters as "Jessica Tandy" and "Kathy Bates" for the actresses who played some of the main characters in the movie. 

On April 21st I finished the book club selection (Sunday night book club) Room by Emma Donahugue.  I'll admit I had to force myself to read this one at first, but I ended up really liking it.  The story is told from the point of view of five-year-old Jack, who has never seen outside the 11'x11' room he and his mother live in.  To him Room is the world, but to his mother, it is the prison where she has been held for 7 years by a man Jack refers to as Old Nick.  Sounds terrific and uplifting, right?  It is actually an amazing story of the love of a mother and child and of survival despite the depressing situation.  Great discussion for book club.

My "easy" read for April, Miss Pickerell to the Earthquake Rescue by Ellen MacGregor.  This is one I have had since I was a child, but don't remember reading it all the way through before.  Miss Pickerell was a character in an entire series which had her not only going to the rescue in an earthquake but also going to the moon, Mars, the Arctic and on many other adventures.  She is a very no-nonsense lady who knits and drives a model-T hauling a trailer with her cow and cat in it.  Fun story and made me curious about earthquakes.

The next book for discussion at Sunday night book club is another one that I didn't anticipate liking, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall.  I dislike running (anyone who knows me has heard me say that the only reason to run is if you are being chased by something that you don't want to catch you), and am possibly even less interested in reading about running than I am in actually running.  That being said, I actually enjoyed this book.  Mr. McDougall tells a captivating story and gives so many interesting back stories and side stories that all lead up to this one amazing race, that I found myself actually caring about some of the runners and cheering for them.  If you are a runner and have suffered injuries (as you very likely have), I would think you would be interested to hear what he has to say.  And if you are not a runner, you may be inspired to start.  Not that I am.  I still find the idea of running tedious.  Give me 2 wheels and pedals, please.

Most recently I finished a book called Everything by Kevin Canty.  This one I read in nearly record time, starting it one day and finishing during the middle of the night a day later (a bit of insomnia which was NOT cured by this book - darn those interesting books!).  Mr. Canty is a Montana author, and the story takes place in the western part of the state, specifically in the Bitterroot Valley, which is where my grandparents, aunts, etc., live.  I think the Amazon description captures it best and I highly recommend this novel.

"In taut, exquisite prose, Kevin Canty explores the largest themes of life—work, love, death, destruction, rebirth—in the middle of the everyday.
On the fifth of July, RL and June go down to the river with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red to commemorate Taylor’s fiftieth and last birthday. Taylor was RL’s boyhood friend and June’s husband, but after eleven years, June, a childless hospice worker, finally declares she’s “nobody’s widow anymore.” Anxious for a new beginning, June considers selling her beloved house. RL, a divorced empty-nester, faces a major change, too, when he agrees to lodge his college girlfriend, Betsy, while she undergoes chemotherapy. Caught between Betsy’s anguish and June’s hope, the cynical RL is brought face-to-face with his own sense of futility, and the longing to experience the kind of love that “knocks you down.”

Set in Montana, reflecting the beauty of its landscape and the independence of its people, Everything is a shimmering novel about unexpected redemption by a writer of deep empathy and prodigious talents." -
So there are 5 books for you to check out.  Tonight, Friday night book club is discussing The Testament by John Grisham which I read about 13 years ago and will try to dredge up my memories of it to discuss tonight.  It wasn't my favorite book then and I just didn't get around to re-reading it.  I would feel bad about that but since the discussion will last approximately 5 minutes, I am not too worried about it.  This book club is actually more about the gathering and the food.

Weeding: Tomorrow morning is the annual plant exchange arranged by the city.  I have gone, 2-3 times before and have gotten some good plants.  It is fun - fast and furious negotiating and trading and then hauling home the treasures.  I took today off from work, mainly to recuperate from the all-day seminar, but also to get my plants ready for the swap.  This is what I am bringing this year: lamb's ear, penstemon, monarda (aka bee balm), coreopsis, and balloon flower.  In the process of digging up some coreopsis, I disturbed a particularly large ant colony.  The ants were all over my feet and legs, some of them biting.  It reminded me of the scene from one of the Indiana Jones movies where the ants carry the bad guy away.  I took a break to read Catching Fire, eat lunch and smell the lilacs, and will divide more coreopsis once I figure out how to do it without stirring up the ants again.
Monarda (bee not included in plant swap)

Threadleaf coreopsis (apparently thrives near ants)

Penstemon (bird not included)

Balloon flower (look closely for the little "balloons")

Lovely lamb's ear, growing near hardy geranium

Until we read, and weed, again,

1 comment:

Lynn Proctor said...

you have certainly been busy--beautiful flowers!

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